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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Personal thoughts after Senate Bill 5 failed to pass

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Pro Life

My 9 month old daughter. She is the result of an unplanned pregnancy, but is the joy of my life!

In the wake of Senate Bill 5 (restricting abortions after 20 weeks) not passing I thought I would share a bit of a personal story… My daughter was an unplanned pregnancy.

At the time my wife and I became pregnant we were in the middle of a launching a startup business, so we only had one income, which was my wife’s. We both wanted to have children, but our plan was to wait until the business took off and was paying my salary.

But life rarely goes as planned. In January of 2012 we found out we were pregnant. I was scared out of my mind at first. I had no idea how we were going to afford supporting a child on the income my wife was earning from a non-profit organization. But even with all the fear the thought of abortion never entered our minds.

Our goal was also to have my wife become a stay at home mom when we had children. That seemed impossible, but never did my wife tell me to sacrifice my own dream and get a “real job”. She remained steadfast and supportive and carried our child. My wife perhaps was more hopeful than I was, but we both stepped out in faith, having confidence that God was going to provide for us and take care of us.

Having a child when we did didn’t fall in line with our plans, yet here we are today with a beautiful 9 month old baby girl. We love her so much, and I’m confident if we did not have her we would have regretted it. Our daughter brings us so much joy and life.

During our pregnancy we first began feeling our child kick at 19 weeks. But even before that my wife and I both felt a connection with our little girl (although at the time both assumed she was a boy). The child that grew within my wife is a life, and always was. But before she was born she didn’t have a voice of her own, and that is why I’m suddenly becoming so vocal about this issue I once rarely spoke out on.

Unborn children need a voice. It seems more people speak out against the life of a house pet (at least I see that a lot in Austin) more than they do in favor of allowing children to live. Life is life no matter how you look at it. It doesn’t matter if the mother of that child lives below the poverty line, or if the child is at risk for downs syndrome… the child deserves to live and experience life!

I will continue speaking up for tiny unborn children until their cries are heard.

Time is a commodity

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ClockA commodity as defined by Wikipedia is a marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs. Commodities are also usually found or grown in abundance, i.e. coffee beans, corn, tea leaves, almonds, cashews, salt, etc.

These items do however see shortages from time to time, or experience ridiculous spikes in demand for various reasons. When that happens the price of that item goes through the roof and becomes difficult to find. For example, in the past year Dr. Oz boasted about the amazing nutritional benefits of chia seeds. His endorsing of this super food resulted in a spike in demand; at the same time farmers were experiencing a shortage of crop due to flooding. At the time my company Bearded Brothers had been paying about $6 per pound of chia, but because of the fiasco partially caused by Dr. Oz we started paying $10 per pound of chia, and that is when we could find a supplier that could provide it. Sadly many times we were left going to retail stores paying as much as $16 per pound, just so we could produce our product that contained chia.

YOUR time is also a commodity. You actually have a lot of it. With sleep out of the equation you have about 16 hours a day. Some of us actually have more. Just like marketable commodities we can see a surge of demand for our time, which seems to result in a shortage, leaving us saying, “if only I had an extra hour in the day.”

And just like commodities you need to place a higher value one your time when you have less of it. Lets say you have a busy week ahead of you that is full of meetings. Any additional time you give away now comes at a higher cost, so it should be guarded carefully. When the schedule starts to fill, be cautious about adding more meetings or events to your calendar, otherwise you aren’t going to be left with any time to work on other important projects; resulting in you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

I often have people ask me to meet with them to share about my experience with starting Bearded Brothers. A lot of the time I’m more than willing to meet with that person or take a phone call, but only when my schedule isn’t already full. The reason for this is people met with me when we were starting and I want to help others as well. Sometimes my desire to help can get me in trouble, and this is why it’s important to view time is a commodity. Though there is a lot of it, there is a limited supply.

I would encourage you to start viewing your time as a commodity. Chances are you already do, but may not take it seriously. Don’t freely give out your time when you are already up against a wall with a big deadline. And probably more importantly make sure you are taking time for yourself. Get outside, exercise, read a book, do things to help yourself recharge! If you don’t it’s not going to matter how much time you have because you will likely run yourself into the ground and/or get sick.

Time is our means of fulfilling wants or needs; it’s precious! So, you want some more ideas on how to protect and guard your time see my recent post on time management techniques.

Being a father rocks, 7 reasons why fatherhood is so amazing

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Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Abby and I at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas. Photo Credit: Brandon Hall

When I first got married I thought I wanted kids almost right away, but soon after Kristy and I were wed, fear hit me over the head and I saw what I thought would be a life that took away rather than give life. But the truth is that being a father is one of the most rewarding, life-giving things on this side of eternity. Here are my top seven reasons for why being a father is so amazing.

Selflessness by force

Are you selfish? Chances are, YES. Well, being a father will help you die to yourself and start living for another human being. If getting married didn’t help you with that enough, having a child will totally change your perspective on life.

A child will help you stop living for yourself and start investing in another. You spent the first 20 something years of your life living for yourself. Children allow you to grow beyond that and start investing/mentoring, just like your parents (hopefully) did with you.

Waking up to a smiling face

Waking up to your child smiling and bouncing around is pure joy. In the middle of writing this paragraph I actually got up just to see my daughter whom I heard spouting baby babble in the other room. She was excited to start the day and was ready to see her parents. It was a joy to take a break from writing to see her standing up in her crib smiling.

Teaching values

Just as your parents and mentors throughout life taught you the values that shaped who you are, parenthood gives you that opportunity to shape the life of another human being. As scary as it sound, it’s a huge privilege and should be taken seriously. And don’t be afraid of teaching YOUR values to your child. Just because you teach them what you believe to be right doesn’t mean they will go up accepting every single bit of it. Though I hold to many of the values my dad taught me through the years, there are some issues we don’t agree on.

Sharing your passions

When I grew up my dad would always take me camping, fishing, and hunting. I loved the outdoors. I always looked forward to our family trips to places like Colorado and Yellowstone National Park. I no longer fish or hunt, but my involvement in the outdoors lead to my love for camping, backcountry hiking, and rock climbing.

It’s these passions that I have already started sharing with my daughter. She is only eight months old and we have already taken her camping three times, and another trip already on the calendar.

Watching a human life grow

There is something amazing about watching a human life develop. From the moment my daughter emerged from the womb she has been learning, growing and observing life. It seems like every single day she develops a new skill or awareness. I’m in awe of how much a simple child can know. It’s an amazing reflection of God’s sovereign design and work in creation. The mountains, trees and streams have always blown my mind, but nothing is more mind-blowing and inspiring than watching a child grow.

Your worldview changes

Having a child helps you understand love in a whole new way. Scripture says God loves people like a father loves his child and it becomes clear just how deep that love is when you have a child. Depending on the household you grew up in, you might have experienced a great amount of love from your father, but you can’t truly know the extent of that love until you become a father.

Having a daughter of my own has helped me to value life in ways I never have before. I felt like I began to know her even when she was in the womb. Our relationship began before she even emerged to see the light of the world. Her activity in the womb gave us a pretty good indication of how she would be; active and happy, and that is just how she is today.

Joy in so many little things

There are countless little things that bring you joy. Seeing my daughter laugh and smile from getting tossed into the air, hearing her let out shrieks of excitement for no apparent reason, watching her pull up and stand for the first time, seeing her climb up the sides of the couch before she can even walk (hoping this is an indicator she will be a climber), and many other things are a simple delight.

When I first found out we were pregnant I was hesitant to accept the roll of fatherhood, and it was mostly for selfish reasons. But now that I have a child I wouldn’t trade her for the world, or any other experience. I love my daughter and am extremely thankful for her. I look forward to sharing many great and exciting experiences with her.

8 Time management techniques that will help you be more productive

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Evernote, productivity app!

Evernote, productivity app!

Time is precious, and you want all of it you can get. You’ve probably said to yourself, “If only there were two more hours in the day.” I know I have! Well over the past few years of running my own business I have learned a few things when it comes to making the best use of your time.

Forget Push Notifications

Do you really need your phone buzzing and dinging every time an email comes in? Chances are you don’t. Early on when I first started my business I used push notifications. I was excited about every email that came in. I couldn’t wait to see if it was a new customer ready to start an account, but eventually it became a huge distraction.

I also used to have pop-up notifications turned on in Sparrow (my mail client). I often found myself distracted by emails that were really not that important. The truth is, most emails don’t need an immediate response, and if they do chances are you are aware that email is coming in, and you can check your email as needed.

Now, I’m not the type that only checks my email twice a day, but for some people limiting your time with the Inbox open may be just the thing you need to stay a highly productive person.

Take Notes

For me this used to be done in a Moleskin, but eventually my task list grew beyond pen and paper. How people kept task lists before apps like Evernote and Remember the Milk I will never know. Pen and paper simply can’t contain all that I have to do.

I’m a huge fan of Evernote, it allows me to create multiple notes, under multiple categories. I have several “notebooks” within Evernote. To name a few; Personal, Business, Blog Ideas/Web Stuff, Milleage. Within my business notebook I have a note called Task List where I create checklists of my to-do’s. My to-do list is perhaps what keeps me the most organized. (For more on Evernote, check out this blog post by Lifehacker)

Prioritize the To-Do List

Within Evernote my to-do checklist is broken down into three categories:

Urgent and Important
– These are tasks that must be done that day, or on a certain date within that week. Examples include; running payroll, paying rent, and filing quarterly taxes. They are the essential things you must do to keep your staff happy and business running

Important but Not Urgent
These things are important to the growth of your business and at times have a deadline attached to them, but that deadline may be a ways off. But if you end up approaching that deadline it has the potential to move into the Urgent and Important category.

It’s hard to list specific examples for this since it will vary so much from business to business, but a few from my personal list right now are; file Non-GMO paperwork, find back-up suppliers for ingredients, order t-shirts, create sales post card. None of the tasks I listed have a hard-fast deadline attached to them, but all are important to the growth and health of our business.

Not Important and Not Urgent
It’s slightly more difficult to determine what goes here, because most entrepreneurs will consider everything important. But tasks that fall into this category are things that are not critical to the growth of your business. Note, that I said, “critical.” For us finding alternate suppliers for our ingredients is critical, because if one supplier runs out of something we have to have a back up supply. Updating our Facebook masthead however is not urgent (unless it ties in with a Holiday sale).

Having your task list broken up like this will help you focus on what’s truly important. It also helps you not have a mental breakdown by looking at one HUGE list.

Daily Planning

Take time at the start of every day to review your task list and check emails. Review your task-list and make necessary adjustments. If something has been on your urgent and important list for three days, you either need to tackle that first, or move it to another list. I also use this time to cull through my Inbox and make sure there aren’t any emails I haven’t responded to yet.

Delegation

This is something I struggled with early on in my business. I wanted to do everything myself. But it wasn’t because I truly wanted to do that, it was mostly because I didn’t think anybody could do it as good as I could. I read in ReWork that if you can find somebody to do that job at least 70% as good as you can its time to pass the torch (paraphrased).

I have found delegation is necessary for a healthy organization. It not only frees yourself up to focus on the growth of the business but it empowers your team members and gives them buy in. I can’t even imagine how many hours I would be putting in a week if I didn’t start delegating duties to other team members.

Set Reminders

This is perhaps one of my biggest life savers. Early in my business when I was doing pretty much EVERYTHING. I would often forget things. I would stroll into the kitchen early in the morning, ready to make Ginger Peach energy bars only to discover I hadn’t ordered the ginger, so I would have to go to the grocery store to purchase ginger. Being forgetful disrupts your day, and the larger your organization becomes the more disruptive forgetfulness has on your organization. For example, forgetting an order of ginger now means we have to move that production day somewhere else on the calendar, which means the team might have to work a weekend to get the job done.

So, use your smart phones reminder feature. Also make sure you utilize the reminders for events in your calendar. I usually set two; one for the day before to remind me the event is coming, and one 15 minutes before (earlier if I have to drive to the appointment). Reminders are especially useful if there are weekly tasks you have to perform. It can be easy to even forget daily duties when things get crazy busy.

Relax

Don’t forget to take some time to relax! Get outside, exercise! Do something other than work. It’s definitely easier said than done, but I have found when I take the time to exercise, and actually end my workday, I am far less stressed. For me the exercise is crucial. I might be having the worse day ever, but if I take the time to go on a run, the stress usually winds down and I can think clearly again. Don’t underestimate the importance of exercise and relaxation.

Work in a productive environment

Find a place where you can get work done. Our current production facility is not conducive to this. I have a large and very noisy condenser unit for a walk in cooler directly above my desk, which makes it difficult to host meetings and impossible to make phone calls.

So find a place where you can focus and get stuff done. For some people it may be a coffee shop, for others it may be working from home. If your office doesn’t allow for this check to see if there are other options. In my last 9-5 job I would go shut myself in an empty conference room if I needed to get a lot of work done.

It might also help to have mandatory quiet hours in your office. I remember walking into the office of a popular tech startup one day expecting to see more of a party environment than an office, but that wasn’t the case. Quietly working at their desk were about 15-20 employees, many wearing headphones. I can only assume they had a mandatory quiet hour rule in place.